Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Colour Purple

Years ago, a cousin and I couldn't believe our eyes when we saw an aunt studding a purple cabbage with cheese and pineapple bits on toothpicks. It was to be the centrepiece at her ladies' lunch and we followed her around, trying to scratch it and see if the colour came off, not heeding her amused promises that she hadn't added any food colouring to it.

Most coloured or fancy vegetables have this tendency to turn standard-issue green or brown once they're cooked, especially many varieties of brinjals/eggplants and beans. Find out why here. The purple cabbage is an exception and so are the beans we have here today.

I bought them on my recent trip to Delhi and the shopkeeper could only tell me they are special Kashmiri beans. They were glossy and appeared black, though when I soaked them, they almost immediately revealed their purpleness and the run-off when I drained them the next morning was so purple you had to see it to believe it.

As they were Kashmiri, I adapted the Rajma recipe in my Kashmiri cuisine cookbook, The Pleasures of Kashmiri Cookery by Anu Wakhlu, to prepare this dish.

Beans/peas: 5 fistfuls, soaked overnight, drained
Aniseed/saunf powder: 1 tbsp
Ginger powder/sonth: 1/2 tbsp
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Salt, to taste
Garam Masala: 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder: 1 tsp
Asafoetida: a pinch
Ghee/oil or a combination of both: 2 tbsp
Amchur/Dry mango powder: 1-2 tsp
Bay leaves: 2-3
Cumin Seeds: 1 tsp
Green Chillies, slit: 3
Fresh coriander leaves, to garnish

Pressure cook/boil the beans with double the quantity of water, turmeric, aniseed powder, ginger powder and bay leaves. Pressure cook it on simmer for 20-30 minutes after the first hiss. You should be able to mash them, but with some resistance, with the back of a spoon.

Heat the ghee/oil in another pan. Add the asafoetida, cumin, red chilli powder, salt and green chillies. Add the beans to this. Mix well.

Add the amchur and garam masala and simmer for five minutes.

Garnish with the coriander.

This goes off to Susan's My Legume Love Affair, Fifth Edition, being hosted this month by Simona of Briciole, and to Sunshinemom's FIC-Black & Purple.


  1. Wow looks yummy. Nice entry to both the events.

  2. Purple cabbage actually will turn blue if it is cooked with alakaline substances, I know this only because I did some research while posting a purple cabbage recipe . :) Cooking it with some acid like lemon juice will help maintain the color. Not sure if that is the same case with other purple veggies as well.

    BTW, cabbage with cheese and pineapple? That is an interesting combo! :) Oh, and cabbage on toothpicks is a new one too... :)

  3. I never knew there was purple beans. I am sure I won't get them here, but still will look out when i go to the indan store next time.

  4. Nice... when I make brinjals with tamarind, they retain the colour... I just checked some of my pictures :-)
    this looks nice :-)

  5. Purple cabbage on a skewer as a centerpiece??? That's ummmm.....unique!!!

  6. I love the taste of Kashmiri Rajma. I bought a lot (lugged about 3or4kgs.)three years back from Manali, and somehow managed to coax the nearby grocer to stock! They taste so much better than the larger variety! Thanks for sending them to FIC!!

  7. Lubna, thank you, it was v tasty - the ghee did it!
    Sig, yeah, blue's unusual enough. What I meant is that they usually turn into ordinary colours. The cabbage wasn't on toothpicks. The toothpicks were on the cabbage! And the cabbage wasn't meant to be eaten then, am sure it went into the night's cooking :-)
    Cynic, thanks.
    Happy, they don't look purple till you actually soak them.
    Raaga, after it was cooked, it actually became a deep brownish purple, the picture doesn't do justice to it
    Jayashree, LOL at your sense of amazement or outrage ... actually, she put a piece of cheddar and a piece of pineapple on toothpicks, and a cherry, too, and put this toothpick on to the cabbage. It was novel to me but apparently it's a cocktail item!

  8. i bought purple coloured cabbage just when i started cooking. i was really looking forward to nice purple dish but it turned out to be such a weird looking curry (i will not mention how it actually looked as it is a food blog;). since then i haven't touched purple cabbage ;)
    those beans are really cool. u have been posting some unusual ingredients sra. can't wait to see what u have in mind for next post :)

  9. Scratching the surface of the cabbage.. so funny :)

    The purple beans look so delighful and the curry does look a lot like rajma... did they taste very different from kidney beans?

  10. Sra, I am not sure this is the same as the black beans we get here. There are so darn tasty. The Rajma looks fantastic. I have been buying purple cabbage a lot these days. They normally don't lose color when stir fried.

  11. Love rajma with roti... Looks yum...
    The cabbage decor reminded me of the Fauji Parties.. Its pretty common there..oh ya, they have some cherries too on the toothpick ..:))

  12. to your space..they look so soo yummy dear..:)

  13. Your dish looks yummy. I have seen these purple beans in a glass jar along with different colored beans as a decorative piece in a friend's place. She didnt know the name of the beans though. :)
    Cabbage on a toothpick... that's definitely new to me:)

  14. The purple cabbage has always attracted me but it had made its presence in to our plate only since all these years. However first time seeing black beans. The rajma doesn't have the purple color right ? Or the pic misleading ? But for sure it would have tasted great!

  15. wow, those purple beans look so bright and lovley! LOL that you scratched the purple cabbage to see if the color comes off! The gravy looks so mouthwatering.

  16. What a tasty sounding and looking entry. Wish I could taste it right now.


  17. Sra,
    This looks good, Is it same as Dal makhni, in which Black Urad dal is also added with Purple/Normal rajma beans.dal makhni used to be our fav while staying in Delhi....
    Hugs and smiles

  18. i havent experimented with purble cabbage, have been making regular salads with it .. looks lovely

  19. Purple beans? I didn't even know there was a Kashmiri variety in existence! Got a lot of learning to do yet. :)
    Your preparation looks good, almost like makhni.

    Don't mean any disrespect to your aunt, but the cabbage would have looked like a decorated hedgehog?

  20. Sia, my experience has been that the colour stays, more or less. I have a few more ingredients, just need to know what to make with them.
    Laavanya, yeah, we wouldn't believe it was not coloured. It didn't taste like the usual rajma because the spices were different but the texture was similar. These are smaller.
    Indo, these were more like black-eyed peas which turned bigger and purple later.
    Swati, yeah, I can imagine it came from the Faujis, I guess that's also where "bakes" became popular?
    Varsha, welcome, and thanks.
    Vidya, it's not purple right out, only after soaking - it's a glossy black at first.
    Ni, no, it's a very deep brown-purple, my photo didn't reflect that.
    Uma, yeah, that's what we did - had to see for ourselves, didn't we?
    Paz, I still have some left, come over.
    Jaya, no, no, this is just one bean, and like nothing I've ever seen before.
    Deesha, thank you. I quite like purple cabbage, just haven't bought it in a long while.
    Aparna, you won't believe it, but 'a sparse hedgehog' was the phrase I considered using when replying to one of the earlier comments. It looked cute, if not pretty.

  21. How very interesting, purple beans! I love purple cauliflower as well. Colorful cooking. Thanks for participating.

  22. The first time I cooked purple cabbage it turned an ugly blue :)Hvae learnt my lesson now. I love kashmiri rajma for its colour and taste. Surprisingly, I easily get 5 varieties of rajma here in Sharjah but hardly find Kashmiri rajma at our locality in Mumbai! Just caught up with your previous posts, a lot of unusual stuff in your pantry!!

  23. What a nice discovery. Beans the colour of purple seems so royal :)

  24. Those beans are beautiful! I would love to try those and anything else from Delhi!

  25. beans look beautifullllll sra

  26. Purple beans... never seen it before. would love to see them.

    all the things about cabbage & toothpick made me ROFL...:-)

  27. How 1980s of her! Fabulous. I remember you mentioning these beans previously. Looks great.

  28. Hi sra
    the legume affair reaaly looks going great ...the kashmiri beans , purple cabbage on a skewer..i simply loved your and the recipe you applied to it it.

  29. Congratulations on winning MLLA entry.

  30. Kashmiri rajma ....hmmm the name brings lots of curiosity since till date all the kashmiri food that i had ate ,had always been a treat to senses with all the gr8 texture,richness and blend of flavours.So i am eager to try this lovely recipe ASAP.I guess it should go well with kidney beans too...wht say dear?

  31. Congrats Sra,you have won the legume affair prize.Do share the recipes of the cookbook with us.CONGRATS

  32. interesting read as always. Love the recipe for the rajma, and it is a perfect entry for the event. Please collect the award waiting for you at my blog.

  33. My mother never cooks rajma if it isn't Jammu and Kashmiri ... love the recipe, so nice and easy. Would be so very fantastic in these cold, winter days!

  34. Folks, thanks for your comments - haven't been able to reply individually to the last set, sorry!

  35. Very cool - purple beans!!!

  36. cool recipe with purple beans, never tried.

  37. I tried them today and they tasted wonderful. thank you for the recipe!

  38. Hi Sharbari, am glad to hear that. I've never seen them after that.


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